Spider-Man is my favorite superhero. Ever since I was two years old, I’ve wanted to be Spider-Man. It’s a strange thing to say as an adult but that idea of wanting to be Spider-Man has never stopped, it’s just evolved. Because what is Spider-Man? He’s that every man. The most relatable superhero of all time. A man who is trying to balance being the best possible hero, his family, school, and love at the same time and often screwing up one of those things for the sake of the other. Spider-Man is me. Spider-Man is you. Spider-Man is what heroes are supposed to be and that’s why children, like myself, run around rooms pretending to shoot webs from their wrists or adults, also like me, choose to find inspiration in Spider-Man’s actions and apply them to their everyday life. “What would Spider-Man do” is a question that actually holds some merit. This is what makes Spider-Man Marvel’s greatest hero. Sure the MCU has shone the spotlight on Iron Man and Captain America, but when push comes to shove, Spider-Man is the foundation of the Marvel Universe.
Spider-Man has had a rocky history both in the movies and within the comics. There have been some missteps along the way. The comics have seen its share of clones, Gwen Stacy resurrection drama, and deals with the devil (yes, that’s a very real thing that happened) while the movies have seen emo dancing Peter, pretty much all of Amazing Spider-Man 2, and not really understanding who Mary Jane is. Yet, through all that, people still haven’t lost faith in Spider-Man. None of these missteps have been his fault. The errors in Spider-Man are always the fault of those creating the stories and their mishandling of Marvel’s greatest hero. No matter what kind of garbage is thrown his way, Spider-Man manages to rise above it. People want to believe in Spider-Man, and they wait for the stories to perfectly capture the character.
After a rocky few years and some failed movies, the MCU has found a way to give us the Spider-Man that we deserve. That starts with the casting of Tom Holland who was born to play this role. I’ve said it a number of times, but as soon as I saw/heard him in Civil War, I instantly understood that this was the voice I had been hearing anytime I read a Spider-Man comic. Tom Holland captures everything that makes Spidey such an incredible character. From quick one-liners one minute to sincere emotion the next, Tom Holland is what we’ve been looking for in a live-action Spider-Man this whole time. He’s the reason why that a third Spider-Man movie reboot doesn’t seem overplayed. In fact, it’s refreshing and exciting to see the character portrayed with the love and respect he deserves.
Spider-Man Far From Home was given a tricky task being asked to follow up the biggest movie in the world. Avengers Endgame was set to be the closing chapter of Phase 3 of the MCU. A way for us to say goodbye to Tony Stark, Captain America, and others as we begin to ready ourselves for the future. A future that revolves around characters like Captain Marvel, Black Panther, and… Spider-Man. If Endgame was the ending then Far From Home was the codex put on afterward to resonate in the emotion while propelling us into the future. In a strange way, Far From Home manages to do just that while also being a highly personal/isolated journey for Peter Parker.
Make no mistake about it, Far From Home is more a Peter Parker story than a Spider-Man story, and that’s what makes things work here. Sure, the stakes aren’t as high as Endgame but a more personal story allows us to decompress from all things Thanos. Gives us a chance to view this new version of the MCU and take it in. Far too often we forget about the person underneath the mask and Far From Home makes a point to show us this is a kid who just wants to have a normal life. Just for a summer. At no point does Peter not want to be Spider-Man, but he’s not ready to pick up the torch of Tony Stark. There are a number of times that Peter refers to himself as a “friendly neighborhood Spider-Man”, which is a change of course from the Avengers hungry kid from Homecoming and Infinity War. This is a high school student wrestling with the idea of becoming the next Tony Stark. The thing is, there is only one Tony Stark and the weight of his shadow causes Peter to miss the point. Tony never wanted Peter to be exactly like him. Tony Stark always understood the kind of mess he was, but in Peter Parker, he saw a brighter future. A kid who wouldn’t make the same mistakes he did because he’s the best of us. We don’t need another Iron Man, we need Spider-Man.
In classic MCU fashion, not everything is as it seems and I really appreciate how the trailers leading up the film were giant misdirects. There was quite a bit of footage shown in the trailers that don’t make its way into the film and it really helps build this feeling of unexpectedness. And there’s a lot of that here in Far From Home as the twists really land and enhance not only the story but the progression of the characters.
Holland’s Peter Parker is borderline perfect and everything you’d want from a teenage Spidey, something we’ve known for quite some time, but it’s Zendaya who really shines here as MJ. This is not the MJ that we’re used to seeing and I would argue that we have yet to see a truly comic accurate depiction of Mary Jane in any of the films, but Far From Home isn’t giving us Mary Jane Watson. No, they’re giving us MJ a character built on the foundation of Peter Parker’s comic love, and from that foundation, we get a charming, quirky, funny, young woman who not only plays perfectly off of Holland but is easy to invest in. You want these two to get together because of how awkward they are and despite the superhero obstacles that may get in the way.
Jake Gyllenhaal’s Mysterio takes a moment to take off but once he does he steals just about every scene he’s in. While it may seem that Mysterio is a bit one dimensional at first, Gyllenhaal quickly takes command of the character and makes him a heavy hitter not only in Spider-Man’s universe but the MCU at large. The costume, which has always seemed both cool and silly within the pages of the comic, absolutely shines here. Much like the Vulture in Homecoming, Far From Home takes a classic Spider-Man rogue with a less than stellar track record and makes him shine. Gyllenhaal’s chemistry with Holland feeds into the bond the two share and is another strong highlight of the film.
Far From Home leaves the MCU in a state of uncertainty that we’re not accustomed to. With San Diego Comic-Con rapidly approaching we still have no idea what Phase 4 actually entails. Far From Home closes out the epic Infinity Saga but not without setting up the future. If you stick around for the two post credit scenes, and it’s a Marvel movie this should be automatic by now, you’ll see that there are some potentially big things heading our way in the future. To say anything else would be a spoiler but what can’t be denied is that these big things, well, they revolve around our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. With Spider-Man possibly at the epicenter of Phase 4, it’s not that we don’t need Iron Man… we’re just getting the hero Tony Stark believed we deserved.